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Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Chalcedony, carved. Coral stopper set in metal

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:

    C.1798-1910

  • Gallery location:

    China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery, case 48

Snuff is powdered tobacco, usually blended with aromatic herbs or spices. The habit of snuff-taking spread to China from the West during the 17th century and became established in the 18th century. People generally carried snuff in a small bottle. By the 20th century these bottles had become collectors' items, owing to the great variety of materials and decorative techniques used in their production.

Physical description

Snuff bottle, rounded flattened flask with an angular indentation underneath. Made of chalcedony, honey colour shading to grey with brown inclusions, carved in relief a bear with an eagle on its back, on the reverse there is a cat looking up at butterflies and a cloud motif. On the sides, rocks and magic fungus. Dome-shaped coral stopper set in metal.

Place of Origin

China (made)

Date

1750-1895 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Chalcedony, carved. Coral stopper set in metal

Dimensions

Height: 5.2 cm

Object history note

The brown inclusions determine the placing of the carved decoration. The bear, xiong, and eagle, ying, make a pun on the word for 'hero'.

Descriptive line

Snuff bottle, carved chalcedony, China, Qing dynasty, 1800-1900

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

White, Helen. Snuff Bottles from China. London: Bamboo Publishing Ltd in association with the Victoria & Albert Museum, 1992. pp. 50-51, plate 18.

Labels and date

Snuff bottle
Qing dynasty
1800-1900

The combination of the bear and the eagle makes a pun on the word 'hero'. This bottle was intended as a gift to a man.

Carved chalcedony

Salting Bequest
Museum no. C.1798-1910 [2009]
C1798-1910
Rounded flattened flask form; dome-shaped stopper with finger indentations in either side.
Chalcedony, mushroom colour shading to grey with dark brown inclusions, with carved details; stopper of coral set in brass.
Dog with a large bird (probably an eagle) on its back; on reverse a cat looking up at butterflies and a cloud motif; on sides, rocks and magic fungus.
The dark brown inclusions determine the placing of the carved decoration.
No footrim; angular indentation underneath.
1750-1910
H. 5.2cm
Salting Bequest. [pre 2005]

Materials

Chalcedony; Coral; Metal

Techniques

Carving

Subjects depicted

Butterfly; Eagle (bird); Rock; Cloud; Cat; Bear; Magic fungus

Categories

ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories

Collection

East Asia Collection

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